Monday, August 20, 2007

Rip-off Shareware Experiment

Andy Brice has spent a little time and enlisted the aid of to investigate the scam that is bogus star-rating of shareware software on various download sites. He has managed to demonstrate that a small sub-section of shareware sites give 5-star ratings (or equivalent) to any piece of crap submitted to them, in order to drive advertising revenue.

The psychology goes something like this: I write a piece of software, of whatever quality, and submit it to the shareware sites to be published. They give it a five-star rating, and send me a congratulatory email, with a badge and snippet of cukoo-like HTML code to include on my own website. In a fit of self-congratulatory naivety I install their parasitical image and link in a prominent position on my homepage - I'm proud of my software & the rave review they gave it.

Next thing you know, people who find my software go to the shareware site generating ad impressions for them for no good reason.

Like some of the commenters on Andy's blog, I'd love to see someone repeat this experiment with a piece of virus-laden software... with the EICAR test virus, of course! I wonder how many of the bad sites (and the 'good' ones) actually bother to scan submissions?

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